Diagnosis for breast cancer 'needs to start earlier'

12 September 2011

Breast cancer diagnosis procedures should be conducted from an earlier age, scientists have claimed.

Women who inherit mutated BRCA1 or 2 genes are showing symptoms of breast cancer eight years earlier than their parents, according to research published in the Cancer journal.

Medical scientists at the University of Texas investigated whether the anecdotal evidence of women being tested earlier for the defective genes and then treated was in fact occurring - a phenomenon known as "anticipation" according to Dr Jennifer Litton, assistant professor at the University's Breast Medical Oncology department.

"BRCA positive women are counselled to start screening by 25 years, or five to ten years earlier than their youngest affected family member," Dr Litton said.

She added that the findings indicated a possible need to follow the "trends with future generations" and make changes in order to best advise and care for women at greater risk of the disease.

Echoing the calls for greater support, Dr Ian Lewis of Welsh cancer charity Tenovus, argued that increased survival rates of breast cancer thanks to improved radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment meant there was a corresponding need to develop post-operative patient assistance.

Posted by Edward Bartel

1 Bayraktar, Soley, et. al., "Predictive factors for BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations in women with ductal carcinoma in situ". Cancer. September 2011.

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